Pete Bennett has paid an emotional tribute to fellow Big Brother star Nikki Grahame after the 38-year-old passed away following a life-long battle with anorexia.
In a post on Instagram, Bennett thanked those who contributed to a fundraiser to help Grahame receive treatment and said: "We've lost a family member."
The 2007 series winner added: "I thought to myself, yeah, we could save her... but we didn't."
Bennett said: "We really love you Nikki. You were a true winner. You were great."
It comes after he shared a recent photo of himself with Grahame as he campaigned to raise money for her admission to a private hospital.
Captioning the sweet image, also posted to Instagram, he wrote: "Pete and Nikki March 2021. Visiting my Nikki and still cuddling to this day. Remember the fundraiser to help get her into a specialist anorexia clinic is in my bio!"
Romance blossomed between the pair when they met on the hit show more than a decade ago – and, despite splitting two months after leaving the programme, they remained close friends.
Bennett, now 39, wrote: "Even through our ups and downs we have still remained close through the years."
Grahame was admitted to a private facility last month after a GoFundMe page, launched by family and friends, raised more than £65,500.
However, a post on the page this weekend confirmed that she had passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.
The statement read: “It breaks our hearts to know that someone who is so precious was taken from us at such a young age.
"Nikki not only touched the lives of millions of people, but also her friends and family who will miss her immensely."
Last month, her mother Susan Grahame told This Morning that her daughter had been struggling with an eating disorder since the age of eight.
She said: "I spoke to Nikki this morning and she said, 'Mum, please stress how overwhelmed I am at people's kindness towards me.'
"'I just don't get it, but I am so grateful,' and she said, 'Also tell everybody that I'm going to try my level best this time to beat this. I want to get my life back.'"
Since appearing on Big Brother, Grahame starred in her own reality series, Princess Nikki, and wrote two books Dying To Be Thin and Fragile.
If topics in this article have affected you, help and support is available from Beat Eating Disorders on 0808 201 1677, or 0808 801 0711 for young people